Commentary

Johan and Halladay highlight weekend

Updated: May 16, 2009, 11:30 AM ET
By AJ Mass | ESPN.com

Daily Notes
Is it the weekend already? My, how time does fly.

We have more than a full schedule of games Saturday, with a double-dip scheduled for the Phillies and Nationals, weather permitting of course. Many hitters in both teams' lineups should see a slight uptick in value for the day with them getting twice the at-bats for the price of one. In addition, Saturday marks the season debuts for several starters, including John Lackey and Rich Hill, both back from elbow injuries, and Eric Milton, who is back from Triple-A obscurity and is now wearing a Dodgers uniform.

Meanwhile, Sunday showcases an unusual slate of starters, as only six of the 30 pitchers on tap have ERAs under 4.00, and 11 of them have at least three losses already this season. Finding a quality spot starter might prove difficult, but we've done our best to try and sort the kit from the caboodle, so to speak. So without any further ado, here is how things look for May 16 and 17 games:

For starters

Selected notes for Saturday: We won't "mess with the Johan," placing the Mets' ace squarely in the top spot for Saturday. We'll give the silver medal to Edinson Volquez, who has allowed just one earned run to the Padres in two outings against them. … If Joba Chamberlain can avoid that one bad inning he seems to have in most starts, he'll prove worthy of the No. 3 ranking. Either way, he should tally a ton of strikeouts against the Twins. … Assuming Dallas Braden gets the call this weekend -- A's manager Bob Geren was wishy-washy on what pitchers he'd start against the Tigers, and in what order -- we're banking on a quality start from him against a team batting only .262 so far this season. … Roy Oswalt's 4.83 career ERA at Wrigley Field lowers him a bit on our list, especially with Sean Marshall and his 3.77 ERA against the lighter-hitting Astros on the mound against him. … Max Scherzer has to get that first major league win sometime, and the Braves have struck out five times in 13 at-bats against the power righty in his short career. … Jeff Suppan is 6-2 lifetime against the Cardinals, with a 3.18 ERA, making him more likely to garner a victory than Randy Johnson, who has a 6-6 career mark against the hot-hitting Mets. … Bartolo Colon has had surprising success over the years against the Blue Jays, with an 8-3 lifetime mark and a 3.80 ERA. But he's still Bartolo Colon, isn't he? … Eric Milton is 1-3 with a 5.94 ERA against the Marlins in his career, making the chances of a successful debut in Dodger blue not all that likely. But he still might be a tad better than Garrett Olson, who likely will be the last-minute Erik Bedard replacement. Olson is 0-4 with a 7.76 career ERA versus Boston.

Selected notes for Sunday: Jake Peavy is 5-0 with a 2.31 ERA against the Reds in his career, but we're still giving the top spot to Roy Halladay. Doc is facing Gavin Floyd, who is 0-2 with a 6.39 career ERA versus the Blue Jays. Smells like a victory for Roy! … Matt Cain has a 5.23 career ERA facing the Mets, and while we have no confidence that Mike Pelfrey will keep his unblemished record any longer, the Mets should score enough runs off Cain to keep him out of the top three in our rankings. … Jered Weaver actually does well against Texas, with a 2.54 ERA for his career, making him a fairly decent pick for Sunday, and certainly far better than the likes of Armando Galarraga (1-1, 6.59 ERA versus Oakland) or Andy Sonnanstine (0-2, 7.15 ERA versus Cleveland.) … Win or lose, Justin Masterson probably is making his last start for Boston for a while; he's expected to head to the bullpen once Daisuke Matsuzaka is activated from the disabled list. Still, color us optimistic that he goes out with a bang, not a whimper. … Zach Duke has not fared well against the Rockies, with a 7.43 ERA over the years. That's the primary reason for his No. 20 ranking. … David Huff is the most likely candidate to be promoted from Triple-A to take the spot in the Indians' rotation vacated by the demotion of Jeremy Sowers, but seeing as it's far from a done deal, he's of no fantasy value yet. Still, no value is more than the negative value of Felipe Paulino, who was charged with four earned runs in two-thirds of an inning in relief against the Cubs on May 7.

Now batting (Saturday)

Hitters' count:

Derrek Lee, 1B, Cubs: We can't guarantee he'll play, given his recent injury woes, but if he does, Lee should do well against Roy Oswalt, against whom he has three homers and has driven in eight runs for his career.
Ryan Howard, 1B, Phillies: Howard is a .481 hitter against Saturday's Game 1 starter Scott Olsen, and then for good measure he has another game to follow and could do even more damage.
Ryan Zimmerman, 3B, Nationals: Zim has 13 RBIs in 39 at-bats against Phillies Game 1 starter Brett Myers, and also has that second game with which to pad his stats for Saturday.
Carl Crawford, OF, Rays: His shoulder should be fine by Saturday, especially if given a chance to face Carl Pavano. Crawford is a career .375 hitter against the Indians' scheduled pitcher.
Jay Bruce, OF, Reds: Bruce hit .313 against the Padres last season, which was a great deal higher than his overall .254 mark. Conclusion: Bruce enjoys facing San Diego.
Josh Hamilton, OF, Rangers: In 13 career at-bats versus John Lackey, Hamilton is hitting .308 with three home runs. Welcome back, Mr. Lackey!
Michael Young, 3B, Rangers: Hmm, Lackey might struggle in his return … Young is a career .382 hitter against him, with 15 RBIs.
Bengie Molina, C, Giants: Recommending a Giants hitter? Against Johan Santana? Yup. Molina has hit .440 lifetime against the Johan with two home runs in 25 at-bats.

Pitchers' count:

Shane Victorino, OF, Phillies: The flip side of playing a doubleheader is the potential for a disastrous 0-for-8 day, which, given his .158 career mark against Scott Olsen, looms larger for Victorino than most.
Corey Hart, OF, Brewers: With a .167 batting average against Adam Wainwright, no kind of glasses likely will help Hart see the ball any better Saturday.
Garrett Atkins, 3B. Rockies: Has only two hits in 12 at-bats, with four strikeouts, against Ian Snell over the years.
Rod Barajas, C, Blue Jays: Barajas has never had a hit off Bartolo Colon in his career. Why would he get one now?
Ichiro Suzuki, OF, Mariners: It's not every day we hesitate to put Ichiro in our lineup, but Josh Beckett is clearly one of his top nemeses. Suzuki has a very un-Ichiro-like .071 average against the Red Sox pitcher.
Gary Sheffield, OF, Mets: With Carlos Delgado injured, Sheffield is getting more at-bats, but perhaps that's not a good thing against the Big Unit. Sheff has hit just .150 in 40 at-bats against Johnson, with 10 strikeouts.
Dustin Pedroia, 2B, Red Sox: First the good news … with Erik Bedard scratched, Pedroia doesn't have to face a pitcher he has hit .071 against. The bad news? Against Garrett Olson, he's not much better (only .188).
Juan Uribe, SS, Giants: No, you probably don't own him, and if you do, you probably weren't starting him anyway, but we so rarely see a player with as many as 17 strikeouts against a pitcher in his career, we felt compelled to share his futility against Johan Santana with you.

If you're hardcore

Deep inside the matchups

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• Ronnie Paulino, C, Marlins: Backup catchers are always risky plays, but he has hit .429 against the Dodgers' Eric Milton.
Anderson Hernandez, 2B. Nationals: Hernandez is a .714 career hitter against Brett Myers, and another possible "two-games-in-one-day" candidate.
Josh Bard, C, Nationals: Bard has hit .353 against the Phillies over the past three seasons, and with Jesus Flores hurting, odds are he'll start at least one of the two games in Saturday's twin bill.
Chris Duncan, OF, Cardinals: Ownership in Duncan has declined to less than 50 percent, but his career numbers against Jeff Suppan show he has better than a 50 percent chance (he's 5-for-9) to get a hit against the veteran pitcher.
Ryan Garko, 1B, Indians: Matt Garza certainly believes Garko is hardcore. Garko has a .364 lifetime mark against Garza, including a home run and five RBIs.
Howie Kendrick, 2B. Angels: He's hitting only .235 this season, but he's a .429 hitter against Vicente Padilla.
Delwyn Young, OF, Pirates: Young is a perfect 3-for-3 against Rockies starter Aaron Cook, making him the ultimate in hardcore dart throws.

Now batting (Sunday)

Hitters' count:

Paul Konerko, 1B, White Sox: Not everyone is fearful of Roy Halladay. Konerko has a meaty .391 average against the Blue Jays' ace.
Stephen Drew, SS, Diamondbacks: His success rate against Derek Lowe is quite high. With a .571 career average versus Lowe, perhaps Drew gets back on track today.
Adam Dunn, OF, Nationals: Dunn averages a home run every 10 at-bats against the Phillies, so odds are he'll hit at least one, and maybe even more, this weekend.
Hank Blalock, DH, Rangers: Blalock has a .765 slugging percentage off Jered Weaver, nearly 200 points higher than his current 2009 number.
Willy Taveras, OF, Reds: Considering he has struck out 10 times in 26 at-bats against Jake Peavy, the .308 lifetime batting average becomes all the more impressive.
David Wright, 3B, Mets: Maybe he won't steal four bases Sunday, but Wright should have plenty of on-base opportunities against Matt Cain. Wright is a .467 hitter against the Giants' pitcher.

Pitchers' count:

Jason Kubel, DH, Twins: Kubel apparently is not an A.J. Burnett fan, with only two hits against him in 11 career at-bats, which amounts to a meager .182 batting average.
Jermaine Dye, OF, White Sox: Like teammate Paul Konerko, Dye will face Roy Halladay on Sunday. Unlike Konerko, that doesn't make for a happy day. Dye is only a .172 hitter against Doc.
• Corey Hart, OF, Brewers: Second verse, same as the first. … The lost weekend for Corey Hart continues with his .111 mark against Todd Wellemeyer.
Miguel Tejada, SS, Astros: Tejada is 0-for-9 against Cubs starter Rich Harden.
Nick Swisher, OF, Yankees: Swisher lives up to his last name against Kevin Slowey, with four strikeouts in nine at-bats against the Twins' pitcher.
Brian Roberts, 2B, Orioles: Yes, Luke Hochevar got lit up in his 2009 debut, but Roberts has never been a match for him, with no hits in six at-bats thus far in their history.
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B. Padres: Gonzalez is usually red in the face after squaring off with Cincinnati's Bronson Arroyo. He's only a .133 hitter when Arroyo is on the hill.

If you're hardcore

Marco Scutaro, SS, Blue Jays: Scutaro is 5-for-6 against Gavin Floyd, surely making him a solid Sunday starter.
Omar Infante, OF, Braves: Owned in just more than 3 percent of ESPN standard Leagues, Infante is a giant among men when facing Jon Garland … he's a career .425 hitter in 40 at-bats against the righty.
Nick Stavinoha, OF, Cardinals: It's true Stavinoha has little big league experience, but he has faced Manny Parra before, and he went 1-for-2 against him, so perhaps if he plays, he plays well.
Andy LaRoche, 3B, Pirates: LaRoche is 3-for-6 in his career against Ubaldo Jimenez, a trait that seems to run in the family. Adam LaRoche is a slightly more successful 4-for-6 against Jimenez.
David Eckstein, 2B, Padres: He's going on a trip in his favorite rocket ship … Little Eckstein! Expect a blastoff given David's career .323 average against Bronson Arroyo.

Triage

Injury list: Out

Ryan Ludwick, OF, Cardinals (15-day disabled list, right hamstring)
Kevin Youkilis, 1B, Red Sox (15-day disabled list, left oblique)
• Carlos Delgado, 1B, Mets (hip): For some reason, the Mets would rather play short-handed than actually place Delgado on the disabled list, despite the fact he really can't play right now.
Nate Robertson, P, Tigers (15-day disabled list, lower back)
Geoff Geary, P, Astros (15-day disabled list, bicep tendinitis)

Injury list: Day-to-day

Pat Burrell, DH, Rays (neck): His neck won't allow him to face the pitcher properly, and while his condition hasn't worsened, it hasn't improved either.
J.J. Putz, P, Mets (elbow): A cortisone shot is hoped to have alleviated his problems, and he might be able to throw this weekend.
• Erik Bedard, P, Mariners (hamstring): Bedard will be skipped in the rotation this weekend but should not miss any more time than that.
• Jesus Flores, C, Nationals (right shoulder): He has missed so much time that the Nationals have decided to call up Josh Bard from Triple-A.
Frank Francisco, P, Rangers (right biceps): He could be back by Sunday if his next few workouts go well. If not, a retroactive trip to the disabled list is likely in the offing.

Weather concerns

• The weekend's weatherproof games: White Sox-Blue Jays, Indians-Rays and Red Sox-Mariners.
• A wet weekend forecast is on tap for much of the country, with thunderstorms expected from Washington to Miami, in Atlanta and Pittsburgh and Arlington, Texas as well.
• Lighter showers Saturday are projected for St. Louis, New York and Detroit, but only New York is expected to have the same conditions Sunday.

AJ Mass is a fantasy baseball, football and college basketball analyst for ESPN.com. You can e-mail him here.

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